Dyson Daniels emerges as favorite option for Pelicans at eighth overall pick

The New Orleans Pelicans have the eighth overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft thanks to the Los Angeles Lakers via Anthony Davis’ trade. Who should they choose?

Since that spot was completed following last month’s draft lottery, Pel’s Twitter has been ablaze with differing opinions on how best to utilize this pick. Some have advocated a “best available player” strategy that should immediately impact the Pelicans next season. Others see this as possibly Pels’ last best chance to add a zest for the fence’s high-end perspective. Still others are pushing for a trade-back option, both to get rid of current and future money commitments and because there is a glut of similarly talented players at the back end of the lottery.

That path worked for New Orleans last year when they went back from 10th to 17th in the Steven Adams trade for Jonas Valanaciunas and drafted Trey Murphy, so I don’t think that’s something that’s out of the question .

All of this means that opinions are WIDELY divided as to how the Pelicans should approach this design. With that in mind, we at The Bird Writes conducted a poll internally a few weeks ago to see where in a hierarchy for the Pels lay the primary prospects in the #8 competition.

However, we excluded Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey as almost every report indicates they will all be drafted before the Pelicans have a chance to pick 8th place. So let’s check out the New Orleans options!

12. Tari Eason: Rank Average 11.17

The local kid didn’t pay enough attention to The Bird Writes team to overrate him as an option at Pick 8. If they swap back, maybe we’d be more accessible.

11. Ousmane Dieng: rank average 10.33

There was a lot of talk about Ousmane Dieng’s potential and uniqueness in this draft, it just didn’t particularly “impress” anyone on this staff. He could well be an exceptional player, but his core abilities seem to overlap with those of the main Pelicans anyway. Maybe just the wrong fit.

10. AJ Griffin: Rank Average 9.5

Duke’s Hawkeye newcomer offers another opportunity to add to The Brotherhood in the Big Easy, but there are many gaps in his game that worry the writing team. Shooting would be a huge blessing, but will he ever fully recover from the injury? Can he effectively defend wings in the NBA because far too often he was a hub in college. And will he have anything else? A lot of worries.

9. Ochai Agbaji: Rank Average 8.2

Agbaji cracks our top 10 mainly because he seems to be one of the safest bets. A type of player with a high floor and low ceiling. He may well have a Danny Green career as a shotmaker and defensive roleplayer. He seems to be able to help, but drafting Agbaji at 8 feels way too safe for 8th picks.

8. Jalen Duren: Rank Average 8.17

Duren’s stocks seem to be constantly falling without actually doing anything to negatively affect them. However, Duren is a massive boom/bust pick that could be Dwight Howard Lite or Hassan Whiteside 2.0.

7. Mark Williams: rank average 6.83

If the Pelicans go for a big one, the TBW consensus votes for Williams. The potential addition of the long-term 5 man for the young Pelicans core is enticing, especially when it’s one who is so active and instinctive, and with a 7ft 9 span, defends multiple positions well. Williams could be a big win, especially with the kind of playoffs Robert Williams has had for the Celtics.

6. Johnny Davis: Rank Average 5.3

Davis has argued about a selection just as much as he did in our group chats. Some rank it #1, others have it almost last. He is a defensive dog but not a top athlete. Will that stop him against professionals? He’s a monster in midfield, but his 3-ball is shaky. So much of his college scoring was finesse, is that replicable in the pros? TBW can’t make up their minds and slides straight into the middle of the field.

5. Jeremy Sochan: Rank Average 4.67

Sochan seems like a plug-and-play defensive ace for anyone who draws him, and he’s big enough to switch to some 5s while fast enough to handle some 1s. This is a spicy option to set alongside Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado as long-term cornerstones. Everyone at TBW likes him about the same, but favors the next few targets just a bit more.

4. Shaedon Sharpe: Rank Average 4.5

The 2022 draft mystery man lands at number 4 on our board, mainly due to upside potential. Sharpe is a real enigma, but the Pelicans roster is built well enough to theoretically gamble on an enigma and take the time to develop those raw skills. He seems to be one of the best shooters in the class which would be ideal alongside Zion & BI in the long term. But aside from shooting and athletics, his year-long tie doesn’t show any specific NBA-eligible skills. TBW thinks he would spend a lot of time in Birmingham but he has incredible boom/bust potential.

3. Keegan Murray: Rank Average 4.33

I think any other year Pelicans fans would be screaming for Murray. But the two-handed draft win with the additions of Herb Jones and Trey Murphy last season lessened the need for the multifunctional forward from Iowa. He’s still way too good to miss at 8 when he’s there, and the top two options are gone though. Best Available Player for TBW Crew here.

2. Bennedict Mathurin: rank average 2.5

Mathurin was a projected Pelican target throughout the design process. A good-shooting, athletic wing that’s still young and had an all-American season for Arizona is a pretty tempting option. So much so that it seems he’s become reasonably safe despite his huge potential. With so much ball handling on the pels, adding a lightning bolt makes sense for most TBW crews.

1. Dyson Daniels: rank average 1.83

Daniels is the big unifier for The Bird Writes crew it seems. His lowest rank among us was a 4 on the board and seems to be the number one goal for most of us. Daniels could long-term provide many of the intangibles the Pelicans seek in another watch alongside BI, Herb, and Zion. His defensive impact, passing, ability and willingness to attack the rim should make a wonderful addition to this core trio. It also keeps Fred Vinson busy with another development candidate for long-time recording. If Daniels is there, we want him in New Orleans.

For more pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed iTunes, Spotify, stapler or Google podcast. You can follow this author on Twitter at @CWGthe2nd.

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